In glancing around the standings at present, a bit of a sinking feeling washes over me. The White Sox and Brewers essentially have the Centrals wrapped up. It's hard to see the Astros not winning the AL West. The Mets are likely going to keep control of the NL East. There could be tight races in the AL East and NL West, but the losers are going to end up in the wild card game. Will the second AL wild card be contested? Probably. That might be the only September drama.
Mildly depressing, right?
Let's turn this thing on its head, though. because the playoffs are going to be amazing. To illustrate, let's try to figure out how to decide on picking a No. 1 team right now in the Official Power Rankings by nitpicking the seven teams with a legitimate argument.
- The Dodgers have been near the top all season, but they need rotation help and there are certainly plenty of other concerns. And they just lost five of six, including three of four to...
- The Giants have the best record in baseball and have proven they have staying power. They also haven't been great since the break and just lost two of three at home to the lowly Pirates.
- The Red Sox have lost series to the Angels, Phillies and Yankees this month.
- The Astros could be a quality pick, but just last weekend they lost two of three to the White Sox. They've also been swept by the Orioles and Rangers and that just leaves a bad taste.
- The White Sox looked like a strong choice a few days ago, but they went up to Milwaukee and got their teeth kicked in for the first two games in the series.
- The Brewers got swept at home by the Royals last week. Sure, it was only two games, but it was the Royals.
- The Rays aren't far removed from a stretch where they lost 12 of 16.
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If you claim you definitively know who the best team in baseball is, you're lying to yourself. This field is wide open and it's glorious. We can use this sentiment keep us happy whenever we lament the lack of regular-season drama we might be facing come late September. The playoffs will be incredibly fun.
Now, who did I actually pick for the top spot?
|I wanted to penalize them for losing a series to the Pirates, but things happen over the course of 162. They have the best record and just took three of four in Dodger Stadium (it wasn't far off from a sweep, either).||2||102-54|
|Fresh off a 5-1 week, the Astros now take off for a tough road trip that hits Seattle, San Francisco and L.A. (Dodgers). A good run there likely lands them in the coveted top spot here.||3||91-65|
|The Red Sox don't play a team outside the AL East post-break until Aug. 3. They are 6-3 so far, thanks in part to their late comeback wins over the Yankees.||1||88-68|
|Cody Bellinger is now hitting .161/.274/.282. They could sure use some increase there, especially with Mookie Betts hurt.||3||100-56|
|It's Eloy time! Wow, what a fast comeback from that injury.||3||88-68|
|Trading Rich Hill was weird. So is the sentiment that the Rays "never lose trades," given that Willy Adames exists.||--||97-59|
|They are last in the NL in batting average and yet still have a 6 1/2 game lead.||--||94-62|
|I really like the Adam Frazier addition and anyone who thinks A.J. Preller is done making moves hasn't paid attention to his Padres' tenure. Do keep in mind that Frazier can play the outfield, too.||--||78-78|
|Pete Alonso has five homers in his last six games and probably wants there to be a Home Run Derby once a month during the season.||3||73-82|
|Go get some, Seattle! The Mariners -- yes, the ones with the longest playoff drought in MLB -- are just 1 1/2 games out of the second AL wild card.||3||86-70|
|A 3-3 week doesn't look horrible, but losing three of four in Seattle has created big issues for the A's in clinging to a playoff spot.||2||85-71|
|That Sunday meltdown was a nice microcosm of the season. Every time we think they might have turned things around, they remind us otherwise.||1||89-67|
|The Jays are just 24-34 against teams above .500. At some point they need to start beating good teams.||3||87-69|
|Luis Castillo is 4-10, but shouldn't be judged on record. He's a beast right now. In his last 10 starts, he has a 1.71 ERA and has held opponents to a .180/.278/.234 line.||2||82-75|
|Their next 11 games come against the scuffling Nationals (eight) and lowly Pirates (three). Can they get hot and make a run at the Mets?||1||81-75|
|There are Jose Ramirez trade rumors. If they pull the trigger, it is absolutely inexcusable. He's in his prime, he doesn't have a huge contract and they aren't in a major rebuild.||1||77-79|
|Mike Trout apparently still feels something in his calf that isn't right. Such a bummer as they hang on the periphery of contention.||--||74-82|
|Johan Oviedo was in line to win his first career game on Tuesday against the Cubs, but the bullpen coughed up six runs in the ninth inning to lose it. He's 0-8 in 18 career starts.||--||87-69|
|Can they still salvage this season? Absolutely. They are five games out. And guess what happens this week? A five-game series against the Mets.||--||83-72|
|The end of an era is nigh.||--||67-89|
|Swept by the Orioles and now eight games under .500. Methinks it's time to sell.||--||64-92|
|They won seven in a row out of the gate for the second half. And then it came to a screeching halt as they were swept by the Royals. Still, for them to have climbed within four games of .500 after the dreadful start was very impressive.||2||75-80|
|Goodbye to Trevor Story this week? Surely it comes to fruition.||1||71-84|
|All of a sudden, the Royals have won five straight.||4||71-85|
|The Marlins will have a big say in who wins the NL East. They still have 13 games left against the Mets.||2||64-91|
|Is Jose Berrios gonna be traded? Who would've thought heading into this season that it would even be a consideration?||1||69-87|
|The second-half Pirates are a perfect example of how hard it is to predict baseball in small samples. They've won series from two first-place teams and were swept by the worst team in baseball.||1||58-98|
|The Orioles have won six of their last eight.||1||50-106|
|That's 12 losses in a row. They haven't had a winning season since 2016 and the farm system isn't good. Other than all that, everything is great!||2||57-99|
|They've now won nine games in July. In May and June combined, the Diamondbacks won just eight games. It's a good improvement and I thought about jumping them over the pathetic Rangers, but they're still 4 1/2 games worse in the full-season standings and have a worse run differential.||--||50-106|